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2021 Hall of Fame: The Case for Barry Bonds

Sports Contributor Archive 2019
Barry Bonds and Willie Mays at the 1992 All Star Game.
Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Is it just me, or does this year’s Hall of Fame ballot kind of suck?

Anyone who’s followed baseball for any length of time knows that some years will be lean, but the 2021 candidate class has people in it that I honestly never thought would ever see the Hall of Fame outside of a visit to its museum. I mean, seriously, Nick Swisher? And I say that as someone who enjoyed watching Swish in his playing days.

But this is a Pirates blog, so I’ll concentrate on the three candidates who are former Pirates. Two, AJ Burnett and Aramis Ramírez, are on the ballot for the first time; the other is Barry Bonds, who’s on his ninth ballot.

I was initially going to put everybody in this article, but the word count dictated otherwise (don’t say I never consider the TL;DR crowd). Today, we’ll look at Bonds, who, in my opinion, has the best shot of getting in this year. It’s damning with faint praise a little bit, but sometimes you have to go with it.

Bonds got 60.7% of the HoF vote last year, the highest amount he’s ever gotten. Some took this as a sign that the notoriously uptight Baseball Writers Association of America were loosening up about the whole steroids thing. That Iván Rodríguez is in should be your first clue that to the writers, it matters more who did them than that they were done. Bonds was notoriously surly with the media in his playing days, whereas Pudge was not. Yes, that makes a difference.

In his Pirates career, before it was evident that he was on the clear and the cream, Bonds was NL MVP three times, not to mention a Golden Glove and Silver Slugger winner. Did steroids make a difference in how he played? In how he hit, most definitely—the jump in the number of homers after he went to the Giants is obvious. Did he need the steroids? Steroids help with healing, and except for 1999, Bonds proved to be pretty durable. He was durable with the Pirates, too. He was also a lot younger.

I also think it helps a little that Bonds is friendlier to the media these days. He wants to be in the Hall. Strictly going by stats, he’s the only member of the 500/500 Club (homers/stolen bases) and the all-time home run hitter among other significant numbers, he deserves to be there. Ty Cobb was an absolute scumbag of a human being, but there he is. In the end, I believe that despite his lengthy career, the only person that steroids hurt in this case was Bonds. I honestly don’t think that there’s going to be that much outrage if he gets in this year, so here’s hoping.

Aramis Ramírez will be on the BD hot seat tomorrow, with AJ Burnett coming on Tuesday. Talk amongst yourselves, either about the Pirates candidates or the ballot in general.